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Islanders: Three reasons to be hopeful for playoff run

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - MARCH 14: Anthony Beauvillier #18 of the New York Islanders juggles the puck during warm-ups prior to the game against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on March 14, 2021 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - MARCH 14: Anthony Beauvillier #18 of the New York Islanders juggles the puck during warm-ups prior to the game against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on March 14, 2021 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Adam Pelech #3 and Ryan Pulock #6 of the New York Islanders. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Adam Pelech #3 and Ryan Pulock #6 of the New York Islanders. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Top Pair

The Islanders might have issues giving up more goals than they score right now, but that’s no fault of the team’s top pair of Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech. The Islander’s top two defensemen have been absolutely dominant this season.

Over the 2021 season, Ryan Pulock has the fifth-lowest goals against at 5on5 for D-men who’ve played at least 900 minutes. That’s a list of top-end defensemen (46 of them in total) from around the league and Ryan Pulockis at the very top. Adam Pelech is 14th.

Pulock is elite of the elites in terms of controlling play and keeping the puck up out of dangerous areas and from the back of his net.

Over the Islanders recent stretch of games (starting with that Washington series), the Isles top pair has held a 61.68 CF%, a 66.99 SCF%, a 54.54 HDCF%, and a 62.39 xGF%. Everything they’ve done of late has been exceptional. Unfortunately, they (and the rest of the team) can’t find the back of the net.

They won’t get any nods for the Norris Trophy, but they’ve been exceptional all year long. They don’t put up points like Cale Makar, or Adam Fox, but defensively they are the best pair in the NHL, there’s no debate, there’s no question.

If there’s one thing we know about the playoffs it’s that defense wins championships, and the Islanders hold the single best defensive pair in the NHL, bar none. I know the Islanders aren’t winning right now, but they have one of the most vital elements to win a championship already.

(All advanced stats from NaturalStatTrick.)

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